On Monday, Dabo Swinney issued a video statement about racial inequality, saying that he and his program “will do our part to create positive change against racism of any kind, social injustice and police brutality.”
This was a stark contrast to his initial statement about the death of George Floyd, which many felt missed the mark. Former Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd spoke with Swinney last week about this, and other, topics.
“We talked for about an hour,” Boyd said on Tiki & Tierney. “You got to understand, Coach Swinney, as polarizing of a figure that he is, he feels deeply. Most people will say, ‘Just let it roll off your shoulder.’ He doesn’t. He hurts. So I’m listening to him have this conversation, and a lot of it was a shot at his character, which I think was unfair because I wholeheartedly know that what you see with him is what you get – and it’s authentic. But a lot of what I thought we saw from the media was to his own doing, to a degree.”
Swinney is 130-31 in 12 seasons at Clemson. A two-time ACC Coach of the Year, he has led the Tigers to the national championship game four times in the last five seasons and won twice – both against Alabama. He has become, for many college football fans, the face of the sport. He also hasn’t been shy about sharing his candid thoughts on various topics over the years.
“Every time there was a moment that was brought up, every time there was a conversation piece that was thrown at him over the years, he’s automatically responded to that instantaneously,” said Boyd, who was ACC Player of the Year and a first team All-American in 2012. “And so, in this moment, the silence was just as loud as the conversations that he’s had prior. But I think this conversation, this dialogue, is so different than anything else that he’s ever talked about that he wanted to digest and absorb what was happening.”
Swinney stated June 1 that “sometimes it’s better to listen than speak,” and that he had spent the week after George Floyd’s death listening.
“The one thing that I’ve always, always respected about Coach Swinney, the one thing that I’ve always appreciated about him that I use currently in the business world, is that I listen before I talk,” Boyd said. “I would rather sit at a round table as opposed to a square table. I don’t want to be the head of it. I want people around me that aren’t just going to be backseat drivers telling me where to go when they can’t even see behind the steering wheel. I want people around me that’s going to help guide me, help me see what I can’t see. I think that that’s one thing that he does really, really well
“If everybody came out and thought that what he said initially was shallow, it’s because I don’t think he had the time to properly educate himself on the topic at hand,” Boyd continued. “That’s what needs to happen going forward. He’s a man, and he’s flawed like any of us. But people put him on such a pedestal. They want him to be so perfect that I think it’s unfair to ask that of him when I think right now is the time for him to really sit back and listen. I thought that he did that, man.”